Our Barefoot Trail has been given a new look for summer 2019 thanks to sponsorship from Tockington Manor School and Nursery.
Since the wildlife park opened almost six years ago, tens of thousands of people of all ages have taken off their shoes and socks to follow the trail.
It now has a West Country orchard theme to reflect the original use of this part of the estate in Easter Compton, where Wild Place Project stands.
Its 18 separate surfaces have been improved, with some new materials. A new play tractor has been added and a picnic area and wildflower meadow has also been created.
Visitors are now able to walk over its new sections and try out a wooden balance beam.
Bushes around the 150 metre-long trail have been trimmed back and wooden benches have been set up in the picnic area.
Rosie Sims, learning officer at Wild Place Project, said: “The orchard here at Wild Place Project would have once had a mix of trees with pigs roaming beneath them eating up fallen fruit.
“These apple, plum and cherry trees are still here and we have planted even more. In some ways we are trying to recreate the orchard in the way it would have once been.”
Rosie said the trail was great fun but there was an educational side to it as traditional orchards are great placed of biodiversity.
She said: “Orchards support a whole of range of habitats including scrub, hedgerows, dead wood, mistletoe and long grass, which all play host to a variety of wildlife.”
Mistletoe is home to six different kinds of insects which cannot live anywhere else.
Signs are in place around the Barefoot Trail telling the story of the orchard and the different varieties of trees have been labelled.
Rosie said: “It really has given the Barefoot Trail a looked-after feel and we are sure everyone, young and old, is going enjoy it.”
Close to the new Barefoot Trail, which has been kindly sponsored by Tockington Manor School and Nursery, there is a new outdoor teaching area beneath the trees. This space will provide a new area for schools and other groups to get outdoors and enjoy exploring the natural environment.
Stephen Symonds, Headmaster at Tockington Manor School and Nursery, said: “We are really proud to sponsor the renovation of the Barefoot Trail at Wild Place Project. Being outdoors and exploring nature is an incredibly important part of our school ethos and our pupils really enjoy exploring our extensive school grounds. Wild Place is really popular with our children and their families. It is splendid that our sponsorship benefit such a fantastic attraction for the use of children in the North Bristol area and beyond.”
Wild Place Project is owned and run by Bristol Zoological Society which is a conservation and education charity. It relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.